Should I walk with gout?

Introduction: Should I walk with gout? Gout is a painful inflammatory condition associated with excess consumption of red meat, shellfish, and alcohol. In medieval times, gout was associated with nobility due to the value of such food.

This is nicknamed the “disease of kings.” Gout is a medical condition characterized by the sudden onset of severe pain, redness, and swelling in one or more joints. It is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints, leading to inflammation and intense pain.

While gout can affect any joint in the body, it most commonly occurs in the big toe. This condition can significantly impact one’s quality of life and mobility. Before discussing whether you should walk with gout, it’s essential to understand the condition in more detail.

Should I walk with gout?
Should I walk with gout? 2

Causes of Gout

The body breaks down products called purines from certain foods and drinks. Uric acid is a byproduct of this purine analysis.

Some people’s kidneys cannot effectively remove uric acid from the body. This causes raised uric acid, also known as hyperuricemia. Other reasons for hyperuricemia include psoriasis, leukemia, and obesity.

Hyperuricemia is required to form monosodium urate crystals. These crystals form in the joints and can cause swelling and pain. Nevertheless, hyperuricemia does not always cause gout.

There are also risk factors that can increase the chances of gout. These include

Diet: Consuming purine foods, such as red meat, organ meats, seafood, and alcohol, can increase uric acid levels.

Genetics: Gout can run in households, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Obesity: Excess body weight can increase the risk of gout, as it may lead to higher uric acid levels.

Medical conditions: Certain conditions like hypertension, kidney disease, and diabetes can increase the risk of gout.

Medications: Some medications, such as diuretics and aspirin, can contribute to gout development.

Symptoms of Gout

The hallmark symptom of gout is intense joint pain, often described as a sudden and severe burning or throbbing sensation. Other common symptoms include:

  • Swelling and inflammation around the affected joints.
  • Redness and warmth in the affected area.
  • Limited range of motion in the joint.
  • Tenderness and sensitivity to touch.
  • Gout attacks can occur suddenly and may last several days or weeks. These attacks can become more frequent and severe over time without proper management.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect you have gout or experience symptoms like those described above, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. A diagnosis typically involves:

  • A physical examination.
  • A review of your medical history.
  • Blood tests to measure uric acid levels.

In some cases, joint fluid may be extracted for analysis. Once diagnosed, your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Treatment for gout aims to:

Relieve Pain and Inflammation: During gout attacks, pain and inflammation can be managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or colchicine.

Lower Uric Acid Levels: To prevent future gout attacks, medications like allopurinol or febuxostat may be prescribed to reduce uric acid production or increase its elimination through the kidneys.

Lifestyle Modifications: Dietary changes, weight management, and reducing alcohol consumption are often recommended to help control uric acid levels.

Walking with Gout

Now that we better understand gout and its treatment let’s address whether you should walk with gout. Walking with gout is unassailable, even in cases of severe arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reliable Source notes that joint-friendly physical activity is essential in improving gout-related pain.

A joint-friendly activity is any activity that does not put too much stress on the joints and reduces the risk of injury. Such activities may include:

  • Walking with gout
  • Cycling
  • swimming

Experts recommend that adults participate in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes weekly. However, the CDC recommends that people with gout start slow, pay attention to how their body tolerates exercise, and gradually add more time.

People should adjust their physical activity according to the gout symptoms they are experiencing. This may include reducing the amount of time spent exercising if symptoms worsen.

Benefits of Walking with Gout:

Monarch food is now readily available to most people in developed countries. In addition, modern conveniences mean that most humans are much less physically active.

These factors contribute to the obesity epidemic associated with an increased incidence of gout. As a result, there is a correlation between gout and problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and atrial fibrillation. Exercise is usually recommended for gout (in addition to dietary changes). 

Improved Blood Circulation: Gentle exercise, such as walking, can improve blood circulation, which may help reduce inflammation in the affected joints.

Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for managing gout, as excess body weight can increase uric acid levels. Walking can aid in weight management and overall fitness.

Joint Mobility: Gentle movement through walking can help maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness, which is essential for gout patients.

Stress Reduction: Physical activity can reduce stress, which may indirectly benefit gout management, as stress can trigger gout attacks in some individuals.

Considerations for Walking with Gout:

While walking can be beneficial, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Pain and Inflammation: The affected joint is excruciating and swollen during a gout attack. Walking or putting weight on the affected foot may exacerbate the pain. In such cases, it’s advisable to rest and elevate the affected joint until the acute symptoms subside.

Consultation with a Healthcare Provider: Before starting or continuing any exercise routine, especially during a gout attack, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider. They can deliver personalized advice based on the severity of your condition.

Appropriate Footwear: Wear comfortable and supportive footwear to minimize stress on the affected joints if you walk with gout.

Gradual Increase in Activity: If you’ve been sedentary for a while, you must start slowly and gradually increasing your activity level. Overexertion can lead to joint strain.

Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential for individuals with gout, as it can help flush excess uric acid from the body. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after a workout.

Medication Adherence: If your healthcare provider has prescribed medications to manage gout, take them as directed, even when physically active.

Should you exercise during a gout flare-up?

It is best not to exercise during a gout attack but between flare-ups. During a gout flare-up, you should rest, apply ice topically, and elevate your legs if the gout pain is in a single joint in your lower body.

Usually, during an acute gout episode, the inflammatory process is at its worst. Increased movement in painful joints increases the inflammatory process. Also, weight-bearing activities such as standing and walking can be painful during a flare-up.

Therefore, prompt treatment of gout flare-ups requires controlling inflammation and reducing uric acid levels. Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acid-lowering uric medicines such as allopurinol to take after a gout attack has ended.

Limiting strenuous exercise on painful joints can help reduce inflammation. However, non-weight-bearing, low-intensity exercise that does not increase pain is possible and may help reduce inflammation.

Generally, people with gout who maintain a low-to-moderate exercise routine fare better than those who are sedentary or who exercise more vigorously. This is correct before, during, and after a flare-up.

The best type of exercise for people with gout

Exercises that work the body’s cardiovascular system are great for regulating uric acid levels and helping manage body weight (4Trusted Source). Examples of this type of exercise include walking and swimming.

Also, if someone has more than one flare-up due to gout, they may experience permanent joint changes in the joints. This can limit the joint’s range of motion.

Therefore, joints may benefit from low-impact exercises such as swimming and water aerobics that are encouraged to reduce joint stress.

In addition, general flexibility exercises may also be helpful. Activities like yoga can be beneficial for maintaining mobility. One research study shows that yoga can help improve pain levels with gout. 

Strength training has been shown to help manage other conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but more research needs to be done on strength training and gout.

Nevertheless, lower extremity strength is often reduced in those managing gout. Therefore, strength training specifically for the lower extremities may be helpful to incorporate into your exercise program.

Conclusion: Should I walk with gout?

In conclusion, whether or not you should walk with gout depends on various factors, including the severity of your condition, your current symptoms, and the guidance of your healthcare provider. Walking can offer several benefits for individuals with gout, such as improved circulation, weight management, and joint mobility.

However, during acute gout attacks, it’s essential to prioritize rest and consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice. Managing gout involves a comprehensive approach that includes medication, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications.

Working closely with your healthcare team to develop a plan that addresses your specific needs and helps you effectively manage this painful condition is crucial. Doing so can reduce the frequency and severity of gout attacks and improve your overall quality of life.

Also read: Milk is bad for gout; Is cheese good for kids?; Purines and uric acid

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